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Non-Parent Visitation in Divorce


Only parents have visitation rights with their children after divorce. This means that the Illinois statute that governs divorce procedure, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), only grants parents the right to see their children, provided there isn’t a compelling reason to keep a child from a parent.

Other relatives, like grandparents and siblings, can file a petition for visitation with children of a divorced couple. The burden a non-parent must show to get a petition for visitation granted can be high, making it difficult for non-parents to get as much time with their grandchildren or sisters/brothers as they want. If met, however, a non-parent can get a set visitation schedule with children, just like a parent can.

What the Statute Says

Courts can’t do whatever they want when it comes to non-parent visitation. For example, the statute provides that grandparents may only petition for visitation if one of a number of potential conditions is met, like one of the child’s parents has been in jail or prison for at least 90 days, at least one parent consents to the grandparents’ visitation and the parents are already divorced, or one of the child’s parents has been declared incompetent, or is deceased, among others.

Let’s continue with the grandparent example. Let’s say you’re the maternal grandparent, and your daughter consents to your visitation petition. You can file the petition, but it’s ultimately up to the court as to whether or not it will be granted.

Typically, courts consider a number of factors to ensure that the visitation requested is in the child’s best interest. The IMDMA also requires that you demonstrate the child has suffered mentally, physically, or emotionally due to reduced time with you following the divorce. This can be a difficult burden to prove, and can make it incredibly difficult to get a petition for grandparent visitation approved, especially if one of the parents is actively trying to get the petition denied.

Get the Help You Need at Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. 

If you’re a non-parent and want to explore the options for visitation, Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. can help.

Larry has over 37 years of experience in family law and will offer you the advice and assistance necessary to increase the likelihood of your visitation petition being granted. If you’re interested in learning more about non-parent visitation or want to discuss the details of your situation in greater depth, contact Larry at 630-470-9990 to take advantage of your free, 30-minute consultation. If you prefer, you may also request an in-office consultation by filling out our simple online form. We look forward to assisting you in any way we can!

Concentrated on Family Law

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

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About Attorney Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd.

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

We continue to work with clients in Naperville, Wheaton, Lisle, Oswego, Downers Grove, and the surrounding areas to provide one-on-one support and attention that will help you through this difficult time.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at any time. We look forward to offering our expertise and support to you throughout your case and after.